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This month, I’m excited to share something a bit different than I usually do. You might have heard of Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, Doug Abrams, and Rachel Carlton Abrams. My husband, Eric, and I recently started digging into it, and we love this approach to growing your relationship with your partner in fun, practical, meaningful ways.

So for the next eight weeks, Eric and I have committed to going on the “Eight Dates” prescribed in this dynamite little book. We will then share our experience each week. (Well, as much of the experience as we want to share with you!)

If you haven’t read Eight Dates, here’s a bit of context.

Each of these dates center on “conversations that matter.” You know the ones. They involve each partner attuning to one another. They usually start with open-ended questions that generate intimacy and connection. They build your fondness and admiration and help you learn something new about one another.

As the authors put it, “The big secret to creating a love that lasts and grows over time is simple. Make dedicated, nonnegotiable time for each other a priority, and never stop being curious about your partner.”

The Gottmans and the Abrams understand how regular date nights are essential to maintaining and strengthening a relationship. (Doug and Rachel have gone on a weekly date night for the last 31 years!)

They lay out a few guidelines for your own date nights:

  • Read a little 
  • Talk a lot
  • Drink a little (or not at all)
  • Keep a sense of humor

Basically, read the corresponding chapter (separately or together) before your date, center your conversation on open-ended questions, limit alcohol (it disinhibits aggression and can increase your chances of having a fight), and remember to have fun and laugh together.

The authors also encourage you to practice the Four Skills of Intimate Conversation:

  1. “Put into words what you are feeling”
  2. “Ask your partner open-ended questions during an intimate conversation”
  3. “Make exploratory statements to help open up your partner’s feelings and needs during an intimate conversation”
  4. “Express tolerance, empathy, and understanding toward your partner during an intimate conversation”

And because no great conversation is possible without equally fantastic listening, they offer some tips to help you be the best listener you can for your partner. 

Be attentive and present. Shut out distractions and don’t assume you know what your partner is going to say. Ask questions (and remember, it’s a conversation, not an interrogation). Tune in to your partner’s feelings and try to understand them. Help your partner feel less alone by witnessing; one great way to do this is to repeat back to your partner what you hear them saying (this helps them feel seen and validated).

The authors even developed some worksheets to help guide your dates. Check them out here!

There are so many amazing nuggets of truth and wisdom in Eight Dates. We highly recommend you get a copy today and make it a part of your date nights with your partner!

In the meantime, Eric and I are excited to try out each of these dates and share our experiences with you as we go. Stay tuned for more!

Did you know we’re offering another weekend of connection at The Art of Science and Love in March 2024? Register here. And to get even more out of the experience, consider joining our forthcoming Post-ASL Coaching Group.